Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Hero Cycle in The Crossing

One of the immediate things I noticed while reading the beginning of The Crossing was McCarthy's use of The Hero Cycle. So, I thought it would be interesting to analyze the events of the novel through this lens.

The Call to Adventure: Billy Parham's "call" comes early on in the novel. In the first few pages, Billy wakes in the middle of the night to the cries of wolves. He dresses, careful not to wake his little brother, and goes outside to follow the wolves, to watch them in their graceful circles. Their howling calls Billy. In that moment you can see Billy Parham dedicating himself to the wolf--that he will be intricately connected to these majestic creatures. But Billy's call doesn't end there. A short while later, Billy's father calls him to help trap the she-wolf that is eating members from their herd. This is the final moment of his call. Billy ultimately accepts the call to go out and interact with these animals.

1st Threshold: Billy crosses the border into the world of adventure in three places. One could interpret that his trips with his father are crossing a threshold. He goes out to experience the wild and find the she-wolf. Or, you could interpret the part when Billy goes out alone to track and trap the she-wolf without his father. Finally, the first threshold could be when Billy actually crosses the border into Mexico.

Mentor/Helper/Wise Old Man: Billy visits senor Echols during his journey to trap the she-wolf. Echols has scents that will attract the wolf and acts as almost a mystical helper for Billy. The fact that Echols speaks in Spanish adds to the mysticism. He gives Billy advice, but more than that he helps Billy to understand the nature of the wolf. That the wolf will be inextricable changed once Billy traps it. That to trap the wolf is to end the wolf. But he also knows that Billy will be changed in the process as well.

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